Gender-based violence remains a critical issue in Nigeria, with many women suffering in silence. Addressing this problem head-on, Nigeria’s Nguvu Changeleaders launched the “Red Shoe Campaign” in collaboration with the Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF) for International Women’s Day on March 15, 2024. This groundbreaking event aimed to spotlight women-led campaigns and draw attention to the plight of women affected by gender-based violence.

Typically confined to conference rooms, the International Women’s Day event broke the mold, bringing the campaign to the public. The Changeleaders used fashion as a powerful tool for gender justice, displaying various types of red shoes symbolizing the missing women lost to gender-based violence. This silent protest was designed to captivate media and decision-makers, including the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Nigeria.

Initially planned as a street protest in Abuja, the event was relocated to the DNF Survivor Center due to security concerns from the Nigerian secret police. Despite this change, the campaign maintained its impact and visibility.

Leading up to the main event, the Changeleaders took several actions to build momentum. They delivered an open letter to the Minister of Women’s Affairs, engaged with the Lagos State Parliament, and conducted media rounds and social media campaigns.

Nguvu Changeleaders played crucial roles in the campaign. Priye Diri secured partnership and venue. A filmmaker, SGBV survivor, and program lead at Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, Priye campaigns for waiving medical bills for SGBV survivors. Victor Terhemba managed social media engagement and live feeds. A writer and youth development professional, Victor campaigns for environmental services in Abuja’s satellite towns. Bode Afurewaju who advocates for marginalized communities and campaigns against harsh financial practices also managed social media engagement and live feeds. Mary Aliyu who campaigns for the provision of sanitary pads in government secondary schools in Nigeria’s northern region, coordinated journalists and civil society partners. Otu Chidimma coordinated journalists and civil society partners. Otu works as a research assistant in Abuja.

The Nguvu Collective funded essential resources like outdoor canopies, banners, advocacy shirts, transportation, and media invitations, while the Dorothy Njemanze Foundation provided the physical venue.

The Red Shoe Campaign culminated on March 15 2024, with over 43 participants, including representatives from civil society, media, and the diplomatic community. In addition to the red shoe display, the event featured “Human Mata,” a powerful exhibition by DNF showcasing stories of survival told by the survivors themselves.

Through creativity, collaboration, and relentless advocacy, the Red Shoe Campaign brought much-needed attention to the issue of gender-based violence in Nigeria, setting a precedent for future campaigns.